Earlier this week I received an email from a subscriber of  The Source Report asking for my help with sourcing a particular product. This wasn’t a new product; this was a product that she had been selling successfully for some time…

So why the help required with sourcing the product?

Well, because unfortunately the original supplier had run out of stock and was unable to fulfil any more orders. On further investigation it did appear that the stock that had been sourced previously and had been selling so successfully had suddenly become completely elusive, and literally disappeared overnight. This is why it’s so important to have a ‘Plan B’ in business. Especially if you are relying on buying specific wholesale stock, from specific suppliers.

If this had been my subscriber’s only product (it wasn’t), her business could have been stopped dead in its tracks. Worst case scenario, her whole business could be ruined. Luckily she sells other products which gives her the breathing space to find an alternative, but this is why it’s good business practice to not only have several supplier options, but multiple products listed too so that you are safe in the knowledge that you can always get the stock you need. If you can’t, you then have other products that can easily take up the slack.

So, this week I want to embellish on this and give you some useful tips on how to deal with wholesale suppliers for your online business.

1. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

Sorry about the cliché but it’s about the only cliché that is always true! There is no greater feeling than finding the perfect wholesale source for your chosen product. That lovely feeling of achievement when you’ve done your research, you’ve got a good deal on price and you know you can order in small quantities so a sample lot won’t break the bank – perfect!

So, you place your order, pay for your goods and in a few days your parcel arrives at your door. You list your items online and as you expected (because you’ve done your research) they sell well. You know you have a hot product on your hands that will sell over and over and you know you have a supplier who will provide you with the item for as long as you are selling it and re-ordering.

Or have you?

What happens if you go to order a second lot of this great product and your supplier has gone into liquidation? What if your supplier has closed down due to sudden illness or retirement? What if your supplier has simply decided not to stock the product anymore? What if the product has been discontinued by the manufacturer?

Imagine those disappointed customers. Imagine the money you could be earning but wouldn’t be due to lack of one very important thing – the product. I won’t beat about the bush; this could be an absolute disaster for you and your business which is why you should always consider purchasing stock (even the exact same items) from more than one supplier. Remain blinkered and you have absolutely no ‘Plan B’ if things go wrong.

It’s important to try and operate in more than one niche and with more than one product within that niche too so that if one product or niche goes a little cold for a while, you have a other successful niches or products to fall back on. This way you will always be making money even if things happen to go pear-shaped for a time. If you rely on just one supplier for all your products you leave yourself wide open to the risk of losing everything if things go wrong with that supplier. Always remember this when sourcing your products and choosing your suppliers.

2. Dealing with wholesale suppliers

I often get asked how to deal with wholesale suppliers when it comes to quantities, pricing, shipping and such-like and let’s face it, everybody at some time or another has heard those rumours of horror stories regarding wholesale suppliers that never actually supplied the goods, or only provided items of an appalling quality. Knowing how to deal with wholesale suppliers for your business will help to make your business great. No matter what your experience in dealing with suppliers, it is essential that you learn how to deal with them properly and professionally to ensure your business grows and profits.

I’ve put together the following important advice to help you source a great supplier, to ensure that your goods are always delivered on time and to a high quality standard, and to lower your costs by getting a great deal from every wholesale supplier you deal with.

3. Finding a supplier

Some of the best deals from wholesale suppliers come from overseas, particularly from countries like China where goods can be produced very cheaply. I know this might be a little scary to start with, so if you have limited experience in dealing with wholesalers, it makes more sense to start locally, with a company that you know you can easily contact and meet face to face if required.

Local wholesale suppliers can be found within your local phone book, and the internet can be used to track down other potential sources within your area. Some reputable wholesale directories can also be useful in finding good and reliable companies, but please be aware that some of these directories do cost money to join and not all directories are any good so choose carefully. Once you have a shortlist of potential wholesalers, you can head over to Google and search for reviews from buyers that have used the supplier in the past to ensure you are dealing with a genuine company that suits your needs.

4. Getting great service

When dealing with a supplier it is really important to establish at the outset that you are a serious buyer. If you can, use the telephone rather than email to make contact after your initial enquiry, and don’t be afraid to ask questions or confirm specifics such as the delivery date of your items. Constant communication builds rapport and will help your wholesale supplier realise that you are professional and won’t take missing or delayed items lightly.

Reputable wholesale suppliers will usually offer you the option of purchasing a small selection of stock before placing a larger order. Take advantage of this – you should always get samples of the product first – and if it isn’t advertised then be brave and ask for it. You might have to pay a little more for the goods, but a small sample will help you to be sure that you are buying a quality product.

5. Bargaining for the best price

Once you have settled on a supplier and chosen a product, it is time to agree on a price. Never underestimate your bargaining ability! I want to mention another real-life experience now and this was from a student of my E-Seller Mastery Programme and member of The Source Report. She says:

“I was buying a product from the US that was costing me $14.95, I had another quote from a different company for $7.20/item, I emailed the company I am using and told them the quote amount, they replied and said they are happy to match the price and hope to keep working with me in the future!”

The price a wholesaler offers you isn’t necessarily their final offer, so be ready to fight for the best deal available. To knock down the price still further you can offer to buy in larger quantities (if you’ve tested the product previously and know you can sell the stock), as bulk deals certainly provide the best rates, or play off one supplier against another! But never buy more than you are confident that you can sell.

It’s often easier to bargain with a supplier face to face, hence the advantage of a local provider, particularly as you get used to understanding how wholesalers work, so don’t be afraid to ask for a lower price rather than accepting the original price shown. Wholesalers want your business and are often prepared to reduce their prices but as you would expect, if you don’t ask, don’t expect them to offer. Don’t forget that suppliers will be used to it and will expect you to drive them down. They will not think any less of you for doing so.

There is always a deal to be done. Make sure it’s you who gets that deal!

As always I wish you the very best of success,